Off the press

A few community pieces I’ve yet to share, some oldies but goodies:

More to come!

I’m sorry if some of the links won’t open for you, if you’ve viewed all your freebies. I know that’s frustrating but the newspaper is a business. I do like when my work is filed under ‘premium content’ (doesn’t that sound fancy?) ,and journalism isn’t meant to be free…writers do need to be paid! Subscribe to the paper and you won’t miss any articles.

School's out for summer

It’s our first official school-year summer vacation! And it’s a summer that looks unlike any we’ve ever had before.

It’s our first official school-year summer vacation! And it’s a summer that looks unlike any we’ve ever had before.

It’s the Monday-est Tuesday ever but I’m not complaining. But I am panicking, just a little. It’s the first official day of summer vacation. The weekend and the Holiday Monday didn’t count, because that was a regular long weekend holiday.  Now it’s Tuesday and for the first time in 10 months the girls are out of school. It’s our first official school-year summer vacation! And it’s a summer that looks unlike any we’ve ever had before. 

Sure, I’ve been freelancing year-round, but this is the most freelancing I’ve ever done, and I’m doing a lot of it. Far too much too balance at the same time as the kids, my mental sanity, and the safety of my children. The past six summers, I’ve been home with the girls and freelancing on the side and it’s been manageable. Awesome, actually. Summers are the best part of stay-at-home parenting, if you ask me. Basically living in the backyard, beach days, day trips. It’s helped to have some teacher friends with kids who are off and friends on maternity leave. But that amazing season of life has passed, which makes me a little sad...the days are long and the years are short, or so they say. But I’m working - writing! - and it feels good. And I’m super grateful with what we have arranged for this summer. 

Because she’ll be starting pre-primary in September, we wrapped up Rosie’s full-time journey at pre-school. If Anna is going to be home from school, Rosie might as well be here with her. Plus  my rate is way cheaper than pre-school. Actually I guess it’s exactly the same. Instead of paying for her to attend, I’ll keep her home and the money in the bank! Shame the standard of care will decline. jk, jk. Kind of. The grandparents have ever so graciously offered to help out this summer. Between two days with my parents and one day per week with my MIL, I’ll be able to work full-time three days a week, rather than five days just during school hours. I’m confident I can get the same amount of work done with longer, uninterrupted work days and by adding an evening, weekend, or extra babysitting here and there when needed. 

I’m happy the girls will get some time with their grandparents, time with me, time for playdates, and time to be bored. Anna’s in a couple different weeks of day camp to give her something adventurous to do with some friends. Rosie’s still too young. But I’m still looking at three solid days to work and two days off to spend time with the girls, lapping up the summer. It’s the best of both worlds and a balance I am looking forward too. (Please check in on me in a few weeks. These could be famous last words). But hold on. I am actually lol-ing at myself right now as I re-read what I just typed. Rewind to “two days off to spend time with the girls.” HA HA HA. Reality check. These won’t be days OFF. These will be days filled with endless sunscreen applications, constant snack and meal prep, cleaning up, struggles to get out the door, sibling fights, whining, threats, and tears. Probably mine. Matt’s predicting it will be  2pm on our first day at home when he will receive my “I’m done” text. Give me some credit. I’ll at least make it to 4p.m! Hopefully our days together will also be filled with swimming, beach days, ice cream, playgrounds, water fights, and reading stacks of books. 

At the end of the day…there’s always wine.

At the end of the day…there’s always wine.

My thought/hope/prayers are that if I’ve handled the kids five days a week in the past, two days a week will be a breeze. Especially being granted three whole days to do my own grown up thing. The key will be to stay on top of my work so I can focus on my days with the girls, which will be a challenge. While flexible, the freelance life is unpredictable. And stressful. Sometime’s sources can only talk on certain days at certain times. Sometimes opportunities will pop up, deadlines will loom. So I’m going into this summer with an open mind to go with the flow and try not to stress. It’s summer vacation for my kids but I need to be the most organized I’ve ever been to make this work. So yes, it’s already Tuesday and omg it’s already Tuesday?! I have deadlines to meet! See? Already panicked. But at the end of the day...there’s always wine.  All of the wine.

Based on how insanely fast the school year went, I believe summer’s going to go by in the blink of an eye. So to all the work at home parents balancing your kids summer vacation, I salute you. May the odds be ever in your favour. May the force be with you. I’m here with you (lunch date anyone? Kidding. Nobody’s got time for that!).  I don’t know about you but I’ve already booked a very important vacation day for myself. It’s called the first day of school and it’s going to be all mine! From 9-3pm, anyway.


Run, run away

Last Saturday, my kids participated in the Youth Running Series third run (of ten) of the season, The Aerobics First Gorsebrook Hill Run. Rosie and I did the u6 500m run together. Anna and her girl gang took on 1km, up and down hills. Rosie was very serious and ran with perfect form. Anna crossed the finish line with a huge smile on her face. I’m so proud of these little runners.

On Wednesday it was Global Running Day. I attended a celebration of Kids Run Club at Anna’s school. Olympian Adrienne Power was there. I got dragged into running  enthusiastically ran laps of the field with the school.

Tomorrow, the girls are participating in the Doctor’s NS Youth Run as part of the Bluenose Marathon. And they are SO excited.

Matt’s lucky. He can set out on a 10k run at anytime, no matter how long it’s been. Sure, some runs may be sweatier than others, but as a former athlete he’s still got the stamina to push the limits and just take off for a run. Me, I had to take a breather after one lap of the school field!

Awhile back I got super into fitness for a very short time and was feeling really good. Jillian Michaels’ 30 day Shred, Slim 60 and Bangin’ Bikini Bod ;) for the win. Well, almost. I completed all these programs, more than once, working out daily from my living room. Then totally fell off the wagon.

I’ve wanted to do Jillian Michaels’ ‘learn-to-run 5k in eight weeks’ program next. I’ve been thinking about it for a very long time. Thinking about it is not good enough. After working on a recent article for The Herald, I realize I’m not even at the baseline for physical activity and it’s not cool. Vigorous activity, thirty minutes a day, five days a week, plus some strength training? Minimum? Gulp.

Matt and I agree, we want to be an active and fit family. We love spending a ton of time outdoors. A weekend hike with the dog is great, but it’s not enough. Time to start modelling some active behaviour because right now, the roles are reversed.

Sadly, my days of chasing toddlers around are behind me. Now that was some good cardio. But I’m back to a regular desk job. I barely even get to leave my house for work! The living room workouts aren’t going to cut it anymore. I live here, I work here, I don’t want to work out here too.

So now that summer weather is FINALLY here, where better than the great outdoors? We live near an amazing trail. I can steal some time to myself, outside. My feet are itchy. It’s time to get moving. Maybe I will give it a try. Maybe I’ll hate it. In Jr. High, My best friend and I tried to join the cross country club. We ran one lap of the field, straight out the gates and never looked back! Hopefully this goes better than that.

Are we going to become a running family? Stay tuned...

I wrote a fitness primer for The Chronicle Herald: Go your own pace, but go . Check it out!


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My top 5 tips to working from home

When your meeting gets cancelled & you’re all dressed up with nowhere to go! #wherearemyslippers

When your meeting gets cancelled & you’re all dressed up with nowhere to go! #wherearemyslippers

I have experience working from home. I spent a year working from my condo as Associate Editor of Lifestyle Nova Scotia magazine. Yes, there were lots of meetings and interviews but also long stretches of writing and editing, many times straight through the wee hours of the morning. I can remember my husband coming home from a long day at the office ready to netflix & chill (before netflix & chill was a thing) and me feeling ready to go out and do something - anything - beyond those four walls.

I worked full-time in a very casual office for 5 years, and was often the only one there since my only co-worker was part-time, so I basically treated it like working from home. Especially since for most of those years, the office was just a 10-minute down the street.

And I spent 5 years at home full-time with my kids, though I was the stay-at-home mom who never stayed home. That was the key to survival! I also did some freelance at the same time, and home was my full-time head quarters.

There are lots of pros and cons, so I thought it would be fun to share 5 quicks tips I use to make the most of my freelance life working from home.

1. Get ready

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I work from home but I still get up, shower, get dressed, style my hair and put on makeup. This energizes me, helps me feel professional and makes me a lot more productive. Like they say, dress for the job you want and I don’t want to be a yoga instructor or feel like a couch potato. Of course some days I take full advantage if it makes me feel more comfortable. Working from home allows me to take casual Friday to a whole new level!

2. Ten-second tidy

I’ve been working from the kitchen table, though sometimes I get really crazy and move to the bar at the counter. (Yes, I have a lovely home office space in the attic but it needs some TLC that I haven’t made time for, though now that I have more time to work and a steadier workload I am going to set myself up there so I don’t have put my “office” away every night, and I’m not living out of my kitchen 10 hours a day). But each morning once everyone is gone I do a ten-second tidy (ok it’s more like 5 minutes) to straighten up the space surrounding me. Breakfast dishes cleaned up, random junk shoved into the junk drawer and strewn toys back in their baskets. Sorry clutter, it’s not you, it’s me and I can’t work with you around.

The view in front of me. Nothing out of place.

The view in front of me. Nothing out of place.

The view behind me. Zen. but i think the table needs some tulips!

The view behind me. Zen. but i think the table needs some tulips!

3. Stay focused.

Yes, there are great perks to working from home like being able to switch over the laundry or get dinner going early, but I try not to get caught up in getting caught up on home life. That’s not what I’m home for. It’s hard when you can physically see the floor needs sweeping or the sun streaming in the windows showcases all.of.the.dust but it has to wait. Unless my procrastination game is feeling strong…  and I don’t turn the tv. on. Ever. That would be game over!


4. Get out

The best advice I received when I embarked on my first maternity leave was to “get out of the house at least once every single day, even if it’s just to check the mail.” It was my prenatal yoga instructor who said it and I took it very seriously.  Anyone with a baby, especially a new baby, knows just how long it takes to leave the house (like, I’m talking sometimes 2 hours in the beginning!) and whether it was to attend a class, go for a walk, grab a coffee or just check the mail, I got out every day. I pass this one piece of unsolicited advice on all the time because it was so good for the mind. The same applies to my work-at-home life. I do have to leave the house everyday on school runs, but I’ve also joined a networking group that meets regularly, schedule lunch dates and meetings out of the house and when I need a break or change of scene I’ll go check the mail, take a short walk or hit up a local coffee shop for a work session.

5. Take advantage

Hey, I’m not silly. I didn’t set life up this way to be strict and rigid and all work and no play. The major perk to freelance life, in my opinion, is the flexibility. I determine my workload, my own schedule, my office hours and vacation time. This is not always easy. I need to find all my own work and am hustling all.the.time and there’s no chit chatting around the water cooler. But I’m chaperoning my daughter’s field trip tomorrow, I can book a few days mid-week to getaway to PEI this summer without requesting vacation time, and I can work all night if I want to take the day off instead. Plus, it’s wine o’clock when I say it’s wine o’clock!

Bonus: office dog!

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Hot off the (online) press

I have two new assignments published this week. First up, my latest for East Coast Living magazine, a step-by-step DIY fresh winter wreath. I paid a visit to Props Floral Design in the Hydrostone and they walked me through the process of making a wreath. I’m planning to make my own this holiday season and will design it to last all winter. I painted the front door navy blue this summer so I am thinking a silver bow, or going rustic with a burlap bow. I think it would look really nice with our warm white Christmas lights. Learn how to make your own here: DIY Fresh Winter Wreath.

Though the Heavens Fall by Anne Emery is my latest book for review over at Atlantic Books Today. I have reviewed books from this series before, and I do enjoy them. I love reading local and having a connection to the setting. (Fictional) Halifax lawyer Monty Collins and his sidekick Father Brennan Burke sure get themselves involved in a lot adventure. What’s not to love about a good mystery? I learned a lot of history about the conflicts in Ireland through this story along with the help of google to keep up, since I really didn’t know much at all. It’s a deep, complicated and still ongoing issue. I thought Emery handled it well with this book. Given the connection to Ireland through Matt’s side of the family, it was neat to learn more about it, and the fictional story is intriguing too.

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